|A1C Risk Chart|
To refresh memories I started on this path (ugh, I almost said journey...barf) after a horrible physical where my blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure were all way up. My primary goal was to reduce my hemoglobin A1C (kind of a look at blood sugar levels over a 90 day period. See chart to the right to see the dangers of a high A1C) from a 11 to a 6 with my lesser goals being to lose 35 pounds and to regulate my blood pressure. As of October 8th my A1C was 5.85 (which is the edge of pre-diabetes), I went from 234 lbs to 187 lbs (I sit around 190 as of this writing and I'm happy about that (to be explained a bit later)) for a grand total of 47 lbs lost and my blood pressure of 140/88 to an average of 115/75! On a more aesthetic level I dropped from a 38 to 34 waist in pants, XXL to XL or L in shirts and L in gym shorts and bathing suits. I've put in over 300 cardio workouts, walked over 1,500 miles and totally changed my eating habits! Mission accomplished? Mission just getting started!!
One of the odd side effects of this has been people 1) commenting on how "good" I look and 2) asking for advice. The former is hard on me as if you know me you know I'm far more comfortable poking fun at myself then taking compliments. The latter I Always start with "well, here's what I did but that may or may not work for you". My method took discipline, regiment, and sacrifice to a level I didn't know I was capable of. For me the hardest sacrifices were those of spare time, my beloved junk food, and a lot of my vaunted strength. I've slowly worked all these things back into my life in various quantities and am happy with the results. I finally feel like I've packed some lean muscle back on which makes me happy. But every situation is different so below are some generalities I'd recommend for anyone looking to change up their health and wellness routine
1) Dieting Doesn't Work- Dieting by its very nature is a change in eating for a specific amount of time to reach a specific goal and then ends. If you've gone this route you know how hard it is to maintain once your goal is reached A mix of eating smarter and exercise which you can maintain forever is a better idea
2) Do What Works Best For Your Situation- You need to know how you can work exercise and better eating into your particular circumstance. For me running was out because of bad knees so I walk. My job affords me being able to stay active so I do. My singleness allows me to eat what and when I want so I take advantage of that. Trying to do someone else's routine usually doesn't work
3) Get Up And Move- I cannot stress enough that this was the #1 mitigating factor in my well being. Go grab a Fitbit or download Argus or even just grab a pedometer and get moving! 10,000 steps a day is the minimum you should be looking for (I average about 15,000) and you can get there through every day chores as well as straight up exercise. If you do nothing else, do this. It will help, I promise
4) Stop Wishing, Start Doing- Don't get mad, jealous, etc at someone's success and your struggles. Whether it's easier or harder for someone else the odds are their success is linked to hard work and discipline. You can do it too!
5) Take Your Time- I used My Fitness Pal to set a goal weight and a time to get there. I figured on losing 1/2 pound to a pound a week. I knew this was healthy and attainable and I could do it without "starving". Trust me, you'll end up losing weight more quickly then a 1/2 pound a week
6) Be Consistent- Use the same scale to weigh yourself. Weigh yourself once a week (max) the same time of day and in the same state of dress. Weighing yourself too often our with many different scales will most likely have a negative effect on you mentally
7) Count Your Calories- I've mentioned it before but the formula for losing weight is calories in less calories burned thru activity. At the beginning worry only about total calories eaten, not kind of calories eaten (well, there are exceptions, see #8). Carbs have gotten a bad rap and are an essential part of a balanced diet to don't skip them
8) Check With Your Doctor First- I know that sounds like a line from an infomercial but it's true. If you have a condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, celiak, or anything else then the rules for your food plan will likely be different from the norm
9) Knowledge Is Power- It is important to know exactly how much you're eating and how much you're burning to be successful. Packaged food comes with tons of caloric information on it but generic foods are harder to nail down, not to mention restaurant meals. I strongly recommend a combination of My Fitness Pal (caloric data base), Digifit (cardio tracker) and Fitbit (activity tracker) to most accurately track calories in versus out
10) No Days Off- Live the lifestyle! Enjoy life but know it comes with trade offs. If you know you have a big meal ahead exercise more and eat less earlier that day. Make sure you work at least 30 minutes of activity into every day, no excuses. I walked 5 miles in a 4 hour layover at an airport recently, will get up and exercise on Thanksgiving and Christmas morning. I won't kill myself but by getting my work in I can relax and enjoy the day without worry.
And Lastly 11) Don't Get Discouraged- Nothing can foil plans of a healthier lifestyle then getting discouraged because a) you're not being as successful as you want or b) because you were "bad" for a day. Simply hike up your pants, lace up your boots and get right back at it the next day
So, yes, that's the advice I can give. I'm NOT an expert. I DON'T have years of success. I CAN'T guarantee I won't regain everything I've lost. But I BELIEVE following these guidelines I will continue to have success. If you take nothing else out of this just remember that you need to find what works best for you and your situation. Everything else should fall into place from there